Mobile IT strategies are fast becoming the norm for all types of UK businesses, but this seismic change could be more disruptive than some CIOs and senior management have anticipated.
Vanson Bourne surveyed senior IT decision-makers in 200 UK organisations, from smaller enterprises with a minimum of 500 employees through to enterprises employing more than 3,000.
The research found that nearly all (97%) are pursuing at least one of four main mobile strategies:
- Optimising mobile websites for customers;
- Using mobile devices to help employees work remotely;
- Developing mobile commerce applications for customers;
- Developing mobile applications for commerce without mobile commerce capabilities.
The companies surveyed see mobile data as key to driving productivity inside the business or innovating to enhance the customer experience. Some 75% of interviewees have employees working via mobile in their mobile IT plans. The second most popular element is optimising the company’s web presence for customers – a priority for over half of respondents.
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Research snapshot – A corporate view of mobile strategy.
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Customer-centric or employee-centric?
The research looked at whether businesses’ mobile strategies were customer-centric, balanced, or employee-centric – to broadly determine the completeness of companies’ mobile vision. Half the responses suggested that organisations’ mobile strategy was balanced.
Companies’ mobile programmes also reflected the needs of their specific market. Some 36% of retail sector respondents claimed a customer-centric strategy, while four out of 10 manufacturing sector interviewees said their strategy is employee-centric.
IT does not always play a leading role
IT departments are closely involved in these developments though they do not always play a dominant role. Only half of the interviewees describe the IT department's support of the organisation's mobile strategy as either a "high" or "very high" priority. However, this figure rose to 59% in the early-adopter financial services sector.
As UK plc stumbles towards recovery, hard-pressed firms still want more from less. The study showed that respondents who gave mobile strategy a lower priority also tended to have a narrower remit; they tended to be focused on employees’ mobile working capabilities, with less interest at this stage in mobility to support their customers.
In those companies that rate mobile strategy as a top priority, IT management teams are progressing mobile data capabilities simultaneously on the different fronts of web optimisation, mobile applications and mobile working for staff.
Future technical challenges and costs
Enterprises whose mobile strategies balance employee and customer-driven IT development are likely to face future technical challenges and costs – including securing customer data and coping with additional demand on networks.
And while the manufacturing sector regards a company mobile strategy as a lower priority than other sectors, this group generally experiences more-than-typical mobile security and technical support issues.
Increasing productivity while cutting costs is an ever-present objective for boards, while mobilisation brings wider concerns over data security and employees’ appreciation of the risks involved.
As IT is democratised, CIOs could become the brokers for new applications bought and managed by other parts of the business. Vanson Bourne's studies suggest more IT products will be bought outside of the IT department.
Graham Opie (pictured) is a director of Vanson Bourne.